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The Maya (Ancient Peoples and Places)

Michael D. Coe, Stephen Houston


The bestselling introduction to the ancient Maya, fully revised and expanded for this new edition

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Michael D. Coe and Stephen Houston have updated this classic account of the New World’s greatest ancient civilization to incorporate the most recent research in a fast-changing field. New discoveries of spectacular stucco sculptures at El Zotz and Holmul reveal surprising aspects of Maya royalty. Dramatic refinements in dating show that rather than gradual development, there were rapid bursts of building and political formation. Other finds include the discovery in an underwater cavern of the earliest known occupant of the region, the Hoyo Negro girl, and new evidence for the first architecture at Ceibal.

It is clear that the birth of Maya civilization lies not in the Classic but during the Preclassic period, above all in the Mirador area of Guatemala with its gigantic ancient cities. The ‘Classic’ Maya themselves can be understood as occupants of royal courts, full of Machiavellian intrigue yet operating in close communion with gods and cosmos. Just-discovered texts at Xultun show a strong concern with astronomy and numerology, as well as evidence of lost books. Chichen Itza, once thought to exhibit a mish-mash of different styles, now seems again to be a city with two phases, one purely Maya, the second strongly influenced by central Mexico.

The Maya highlights the vitality of current scholarship into this brilliant civilization.

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'Essential reading for any intrepid souls heading to Central America'

'Coe and Houston’s book constitutes one of the major introductions to Maya civilization … highly recommended'
Latin American Antiquity

'One of the success stories of popular archaeology publishing'
Times Literary Supplement

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Edition Type: Ninth edition

Size: 24.1 x 15.9 cm

Extent: 320 pp

Illustrations: 213

Publication date: 18 May 2015

ISBN: 9780500291887

Contents List

Introduction • The Earliest Maya • The Rise of Maya Civilisation • Classic Splendor: The Early Period • Classic Splendor: The Late Period • The Terminal Classic • The Postclassic • Maya Life on the Eve of the Conquest Maya Thought and Culture • The Enduring Maya

About the Author

Professor Michael D. Coe is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Curator Emeritus in the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University. His books include The Maya, Reading the Maya Glyphs and Mexico and The True History of Chocolate, all published by Thames & Hudson.

Stephen Houston is Dupee Family Professor of Social Sciences at Brown University. The recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, he is the author of many books, including The Life Within: Classic Maya and the Matter of Permanence and co-author of The Maya. Houston has directed projects at the Classic Maya cities of Piedras Negras and El Zotz, Guatemala.